In 1930, the Department of the Interior and the National Parks Board created a silent film entitled Modern Voyageurs. The film, shown across Canada and the United States, showcased the new Prince Albert National Park.
The film is a visual trip down memory lane for anyone who has ever visited Waskesiu. The film opens with a bustling street scene from Prince Albert, where modern cars vie for space with horses and wagons, c. 1930. It was important to demonstrate that the park was accessible to cars and not far from Prince Albert, hence scenes of cars traversing the best and driest sections of the gravel road to the park, with a park entrance gate a mere 35 miles from the city. (The fact that Waskesiu townsite, the destination of most holidaymakers, was many miles further than that was not mentioned!)
As with all silent films, moving images are cut with flowery text that directs the attention of the watcher. The film chooses to focus on a canoe trip through the park, complete with fishing, portages, wildlife, tenting, afternoon tea, and the requisite nod to Canadian First Nations men, hired as guides and tripmen to take the pampered crew on their wilderness journey. A cameo appearance by Metis trapper Louis Lavallee is also included.
The film was part of an immense campaign to pull down regional stereotypes of Saskatchewan as ‘prairie,’ to allow possible future tourists to know that the new Prince Albert National Park was a boreal wonderland, a playground for prairie sojourners and others. A push to present the new national park as a vacationland for potential canoe enthusiasts depicted the park as a gateway to the old ‘voyageur’ highways of the fur trade.
Modern Voyageurs can be viewed online at the Saskatchewan Settlement Experience website:
http://www.sasksettlement.com/display.php?cat=Life on the Prairies&subcat=Recreation&id=1618
(I recommend copying and pasting the link into your browser site).